“As you see him, you will see yourself. As you treat him, you will treat yourself. As you think of him, you will think of yourself. Never forget this, for in him you will find yourself or lose yourself.” –A Course in Miracles

As a peer support specialist on the Recovery Connection Warmline, I speak to people all day. It is in those moments of listening without judgement to someone sharing their story, and listening from a place of compassion—that create a connection. One caller had faced much trauma and had memory issues, so patience and repetition was required as I offered support. I slowly shared some numbers and resource information. The caller thanked me for the time I spent and my kindness, but the measure of thanks given outweighed what I had done.

The call ended and I cried. I considered how the simple act made such a big impact on this individual who had been bereft of kindness in life. Too often, I pondered, kindness is withheld in the experiences we all have. I paused for a moment to pray for us all.

I then recalled a time I was traveling during a very dark period of my life. I was sandwiched between two older men on the plane. I was in quite a fragile state and their kindnesses caused me to cry. They thought they had done something wrong – rather, they had touched my heart. The gentlemen could have easily felt irritated and wished they had been assigned a different seat rather than next to the crying mess that was me. I’m sure both of these men would say they did nothing, however, they did something beautiful – they showed they cared. Instead of shutting down their hearts to a stranger, they kept their hearts open. It made such an impact on me, and caused me to realize I had been starving for simple kindness in my life at that time. To this day, I do not forget them; their kindnesses live inside me.

It is so easy to close our hearts as a self protective mechanism from our own pain/trauma. I have learned that a heart can expand instead of shutting itself off— and it will lead to a richer, fuller life. By offering more kindness, forgiveness, and compassion to myself, I am able to give more to others—which multiplies the effect. I implore you to never undervalue any act of kindness you offer. The ripple effect will be a powerful circle of love, starting with your own heart first.

Cheri Thomas

Cheri works as a Peer Support Specialist for RI in Arizona. She has experienced loss and grief which has led her to write for the masses to bring voice to those in similar situations. Cheri possesses a deep passion to share with, encourage, and inspire others on what she calls the Journey of the Heart.